A recent study led by Dr. Susan L. Davies, associate professor in the department of health behavior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham – along with department colleagues Dr. JeeWon Cheong, assistant professor; Dr. Cathy Simpson, associate professor; Ms. Susan Diane Chandler, program manager II; and Dr. Jalie A. Tucker, professor and chair – sought to identify sexual risk patterns associated with HIV/sexually transmitted infections (STI) and early parenthood within population subgroups, which is critical for targeting risk reduction interventions.
Latent Class Analysis (LCA) – which identifies unobservable subgroups within a population – was used to identify sexual behavior typologies to predict sexual risk outcomes among 274 (63 percent female) unmarried, sexually active African-American emerging adults (with a median age of 19.31 years) living in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods. Participants were enrolled in a larger cross-sectional observational study of risk and protective behaviors. LCA defined membership into discrete risk classes based on reported sex risk behaviors.
Three groups were identified by the team: The “low contraception use” risk class (32 percent) had low rates of condom or other birth control use, moderate rates of sexual initiation before age 16, and the highest pregnancy/early parenthood and STI rates. The predominately male “early sex” risk class (32 percent) had higher rates of early initiation and multiple partners; these risks were countered by higher contraception and condom use. Both these risk groups showed higher probability to use substances before sex relative to the “low sex risk” class (36 percent), which showed low rates on all risk behaviors.
LCA identified distinct risk clusters that predicted sexual health outcomes and can inform targeted interventions for a minority youth population disproportionately affected by HIV, other STIs, and early parenthood. “Sexual Risk Typologies and Their Relationship with Early Parenthood and STI Outcomes among Urban African-American Emerging Adults: A Cross-Sectional Latent Profile Analysis” was published in May in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.
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